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Bought Arkham Horror as a graduation present for my sister, who enjoys the game Pandemic so I thought another cooperative game would be good. Arkham Horror was a little too complex for her and my mom, but my boyfriend and I (who also love the game Gloomhaven) enjoyed it. It does take a long time to set up and get a hang of the rules, but once you do turns start moving faster and the storyline picks up.
Its a great game with a lot of lore to build on, but it definitely has a high learning curve and a lot of setup as well as being a long game (not necessarily a bad thing) that likely will take a few sessions to finish. Definitely recommend!
4.0 out of 5 starsNice Improvements, Could've Pushed It Further
Reviewed in the United States on 21 April 2020
I have the previous version of this game as well. It's complex, interesting, a little slow at times and comes with enough pieces to drive you to madness whilst trying to collect and organize them all after each session.
What I like: - It still has the slow paced, horror/investigation feel captured in the previous entry. - They reduced the number of pieces/tokens/etc required to play SIGNIFICANTLY, which I feel makes gameplay quicker, more straightforward and much smoother. (clean up is also much faster) - The streamlined some of the more monotonous mechanics, making for an easier to learn/play experience. - It's still a high quality box filled with well made materials. I don't feel like they cut any corners in terms of the quality of product they delivered.
What I don't like: - Some of the monster encounters are a bit less random feeling, which makes them feel like less of a threat. - I felt that while the subtractions were welcome, the additions are lacking. I appreciate the streamlining, I just wish they would've used that opportunity to add a little more to the game as well.
Overall, if you've never played Arkham Horror, this is the edition to get. If you're an HP Lovecraft or even Mystery/Horror tabletop fan, this will likely not disappoint. If you own the previous edition, I don't know if you'll find the changes worth the cost of admission.
4.0 out of 5 starsMore Complex than Pandemic Cthulhu
Reviewed in the United States on 5 January 2019
I have been playing a lot of Pandemic: Cthulhu with my family. For those who also play that game, Arkham Horror is NOT Pandemic: Cthulhu. Pandemic you can play in less than an hour. The game length of Arkham Horror is counted by the hours. As in 2-3 (they optimistically say 1-2), or more if you're learning.
There is a LOT to this game. It's similar to Pandemic: Cthulhu in that you're all investigators (there are more choices here, however). There are lots of pieces, very confusing pieces at first. I found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed as I punched them out (a process that took some time). It reminded me a lot of my old Avalon Hill-era wargaming with the cardboard unit counters.
That said, these pieces are expertly die cut and they punch out without a problem (unlike some of those earlier wargames). And they are lovely to look at. The problem is two-fold: there are a lot of them, and the game box has no storage bins like Pandemic: Cthulhu.
Many of the pieces are cards of one variety or another, and these come in three ziplock bags. My original plan was to take the cards out of the bags and store the pieces in the bags instead, but then I have to use a large number of rubber bands to hold the various decks together and any gamer will tell you that's bad for the cards.
I understand why the manufacturer probably failed to provide a nice plastic sorter inside the box, and expense is one of them, I'm sure. The other is that no plastic organizer could have enough slots to organize the vast quantity (and types) of pieces included in this game.
So I admit it was with some misgivings that I sat down to figure the game out. The basic rulebook, explaining how to play, is easy, no more daunting than that of the other game. However, there is another booklet that contains all the clauses of all the rules so that there will be no confusion over what is meant in the 'how to play' book.
It's not an easy game to learn. The concept is pretty straightforward and I liked the concept of scenarios because of my wargaming days, but there are so many pieces and so many decks to sort out.
And once you get it all set up you have no table space left (and my back wasn't terribly happy with me for bending over the table for so long). And you lose that table space for however long it takes you to finish the game (I'm just glad I don't have cats anymore). And no one in my house is going to sit still for three hours without taking a break. So it's kind of an undertaking (and would have been much less so in my younger days, so take my age of 60 into account when reading this). I love Cthulhu and board games as much as I ever have, but my body is willing to put up with far less).
That said, the game is fun and interesting. I think it's just too complex. I felt as though somebody sat down and thought of all the cool elements they could include and then included them, without giving any thought to how things might be simplified or streamlined.
In other words, this is a game for serious gamers I give it four stars because it really is quite impressive. It's dark, sure, but it's Cthulhu! I can't compare it to the earlier version because I never played it, and so I can only compare it to Pandemic: Cthulhu. If you want a quick game of under an hour, play that game. If you don't mind taking up an entire afternoon or evening, by all means, play Arkham Horror. I just lack the stamina at this point for what is involved.
4.0 out of 5 starsGreat design, but very long play time
Reviewed in the United States on 8 December 2018
This is the culmination of the many version of Arkham (and Eldritch) Horror games. It takes many of the best mechanics and puts them together in an interesting and fun way. This is a very story-driven game, so you are often along for the ride, sometimes not even knowing what the goal (or win conditions) are at the start. The cards are slowly revealed to you and you figure things out as you go. There are different scenarios you can set up and play, which alter which cards you use, which monsters are included, etc. This makes for a lot of replayability because you can repeat a scenario and make different decisions, or have different events happen.
The game is complex, in that there are a lot of variables, but it plays fairly simply. You have a basic set of actions that you can do, but you do spend a lot of time moving monsters, doing encounters, etc, so you are going to have some "down time" between turns while this all happens. Overall, the game looks good and has great components, and that story-driven aspect is really fun.
But. It's so long. 3 hours long. That's way too long and makes it hard to find time for or to introduce new players to. I think this makes it a "gamer's game" and less of a game for casual gamers. They need to find a way to reduce the length of the game.
4.0 out of 5 starsLots of replayability but some drawbacks
Reviewed in the United States on 18 December 2018
Arkham Horror will take some time to set up and read the rules. Do not expect to pull this out of the box and begin immediately. It also is not designed for super casual gamers as all the games we've played so far range between 2-3 hours. To give an idea of the complexity: there is a "how to play" booklet and a "rules interpretation" booklet that is even larger. Interestingly, this can be played as a single play but seems pretty impossibly balanced in order to win. This is a cooperative game, and so all the players are working together as "investigators." It's a tricky balance to move forward on clues while trying to keep the "horror" in the city at bay. If an investigator "dies" the nice part is that the player gets to continue by picking a new investigator and starting out again.
What's great about it is the amount of replayability - investigators have to choose their strengths and sometimes their primary object. There is the opportunity for some fun minor role-play. The game events change as the Codex changes during progressive gameplay. Similar to other cooperative games such as Pandemic, when things take a turn for the worst, they tend to escalate quickly, so do watch the amount of doom.
Interestingly, this 3rd edition changes the board, the cards, and some elements. It decreases the max # of players to 6 instead of 8. The tiles make is take up a lot of space and the chits (health, horror, anomaly, etc) have to be managed (and there are not separate bags for them). However, the tiled board does mean that there are different areas for different scenarios. There is a card holder (self assembly) for the event cards. And there are some weird things: the event deck is used for most everything (doom, unstable spaces, clues), and requires drawing from different areas of the deck: from the top, the bottom, sometimes have to shuffle cards into other decks, discard the card, or sometimes shuffle the discard pile and integrate it with the remaining deck. It felt a little Fluxx like.
Fantasy Flight Games, for some reason, never actually includes everything in the box, which is a pet peeve of this reviewer (need 3 dice? Hey, we gave you 2!). For Arkham Horror, they don't include the "Mythos" cup which is supposed to be an opaque container. For the price of the game, just include the darn thing.
Setting up the monster card deck proved to take longer than expected. Location decks seemed thin. It feels like both of these are deliberately weakly crafted to encourage purchase of future expansions, though perhaps that is just a jaded opinion. Time will tell!
Also, as a gamer, the skills feel a bit unbalanced. Of the skills, lore is used to wipe out doom, strength is helpful for beating monsters, observation is essential for evading and research. Influence and will seem not to be that useful, although there is the possibility that there may be a different scenario where they come in handy. But they certainly were not that useful in the several iterations this reviewer played.
So, there are some good and bad aspects to this game. It's still worth a purchase, though die hard fans of Eldritch will not like this version.
First off, this game is largely based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft, so if you like the idea of giving your kids a little history without them even knowing it, that could be a plus with this game. I know that my daughter is already begging to play some more - she loves the mood and feeling of this game, even though she requires a great deal of help with the gameplay (she is 10, going on 16).
You will notice right away that this game is not your typical mass-marketed, vanilla game with simple rules. That may be a plus to you, or it may be a negative. I will say that I haven't ever ordered $50+ board games before, so I was expecting pretty good quality materials. In some ways I got them, and in some ways I did not.
I was frustrated with the event card holder, that doesn't fit back in the box (unless you take it back apart) once it is assembled and it only looks so-so in my opinion. Also, my copy did not have a hardcover game rule-book - if that matters to you. At $50+ I could see how someone might feel that was important.
Beyond that though, the art is beautiful. The care and design that went into the game are apparent and gameplay is ultra-important and this game is a winner there. I also find it amazingly cool that ONE PLAYER can play this game (perhaps without as much excitement, but still pretty neat) and practice and learn or just try out scenarios.
Ultimately, at $20 this is a five star game. At over twice that, it is a very good four star game and that's what I'm going to rate it. It is nice to see that there is a bit of a retro movement to go back to real board games now that so many people are buried in their digital devices (not that there's anything wrong with that!) and that people are coming out with quality board games to offer those digital gamers that expect a quality gaming experience.
4.0 out of 5 starsIn my opinion, a big improvement over 2nd Edition
Reviewed in the United States on 23 July 2019
I've owned 2nd Edition Arkham Horror (AH2ed), with one of the expansions, for several years. I'm an experienced gamer and have played 2nd Edition a few times, both with friends and at Gen Con. But the bottom line is that AH2ed always confused me: the overall strategy may be clear, but the mechanics always seemed more complex than necessary, the paths to victory excessively murky, and just plan too long and too complex to bring to the table. This 3rd Edition (AH3ed) remedies many of these issues, albeit at the expense of presenting you with basically an entirely new game experience. It's a lot more streamlined, easier to learn, shorter to play, and presents a more narrative/thematic storyline than the intentionally open-ended sandboxy feel of 2nd Edition. If you always "wanted to like" 2nd Edition but never quite got there, if you're a died in the wool Lovecraft fan, or just mad about coop games that don't play like multiplayer solitaire, then you owe it to yourself to give this one a try. Watch one of the many "how to play" AH3ed videos on boardgamegeek or Youtube and give it a shot.
I've been circling Arkham Horror for years. Its reputation precedes it, and I've been always curious about how the game plays out. I of course risked my sanity to discover the intricacies of a board game that's been around for eons.
Fans of H.P. Lovecraft's work know the drill: unlikely heroes roam the world looking for clues nobody else can see to stop an unspeakable eldritch horror from awakening, thereby signaling the end of the world. If reviews of the second edition are any indication, the game could stretch on forever -- nine hours by one account! -- and that's something the third edition has definitely addressed.
What it hasn't quite resolved is the tension between player agency and story, which is typical of a board game attempting to recreate a role-playing game's feel. In essence, cards are filled with narrative hooks that don't always make sense with what's actually happening in the game, and player choice can sometimes feel limited. But conversely, teamwork is essential in both managing individual player goals vs. preventing the impending apocalypse.
In a branched-narrative game like this, choice is essential, but Arkham Horror has just four scenarios and a limited number of locations. Like a good horror story, this is a game that packs a punch the first time, and becomes less scary with each sequel.
4.0 out of 5 stars5/5 gamers in our family enjoyed it
Reviewed in the United States on 29 December 2020
Our family is very big into games and we add a few new games to our collection each year. Some of us (my sons) have played the older versions of Arkham Horror and really enjoyed it. Its a challenging game and takes a bit of time to understand the directions, so I might not recommend it for those who are more into lighter games. However, for those into longer and more complex games, this one is a lot of fun! We only set it up on nights where we know we can dedicated a couple of hours to the game.